Staff Editorial: Hennepin County should vote to welcome refugees

Acceptance of refugees leads to economic, cultural enrichment


Maggie Klaers

According to the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library, 7% of Minnesota’s population were in foreign countries as of 2017. Minnesota has a history of accepting large numbers of refugees, including Hmong and Somali populations, who began settling in the late 20th century. As of 2015, Minnesota has the largest Somali population and the second largest Hmong population in the nation.

Following an executive order issued by President Trump Sept. 26, a North Dakota county created local tensions by considering a ban on refugees. Burleigh County attracted national attention over a rule mentioned in the executive order, authorizing both the State and local government to express written consent for the federal government to resettle refugees in the community. 

The Burleigh County Commission ultimately voted Dec. 9 to allow the resettlement of refugees into the community. Although they didn’t ban refugees, the process still sparked debate as Burleigh County would have been the first in the United States to bar refugees from resettling in the locality.

The Echo Editorial Board applauds Hennepin County’s support programs for refugee resettlement and implores county officials to remember their commitment to fostering a welcoming community as they hold discussions over the new policy in coming weeks.

Large immigrant and refugee communities have come to the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, especially Somali and Hmong populations, creating a community with a rich and diverse culture. Local governments have helped these communities feel welcome in a new, foreign city. Banning refugees from resettling in Hennepin County would alienate those attempting to seek refuge, contradicting the county’s core value to “acknowledge and affirm diverse cultures, identities and experiences.”

Although the thought of refugees stealing native citizen’s jobs has been brought to the forefront of the debate around immigration, we believe refugees are an asset to the local economy. According to a study from June 2017, refugees are more likely to have higher employment rates, are more willing to work low-paying jobs and pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits.

The community at Park prides itself on its diversity. In order to keep our diversity, The Echo Editorial Board asks students and members of the community to stay informed about controversial topics, voice their opinions and stay respectful toward those they disagree with.

The Board also believes those who can should continue helping refugees in their community in any way possible, including donating to charities associated with refugee care or creating discussions within the community regarding immigration.